ISLAMABAD - The rift within Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which is now acting like a government-in-waiting, became apparent on Tuesday when its two senior leaders came face to face in a party meeting.

It all started when there was an altercation took place between PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi and former secretary general of the party Jahangir Khan Tareen in the party’s core group meeting.

Sources in PTI confirmed that Qureshi brought under discussion the matter of participation of disqualified politicians in the party’s affairs and Tareen took the remarks as personal as he has been disqualified for life by the Supreme Court

In the PTI’s core committee meeting that was held in the chair of Imran Khan, Qureshi objected to the participation of PTI leader from district Sahiwal of Punjab Rai Hasan Nawaz in the party meetings on the grounds that he has been disqualified for life by the Supreme Court.

Qureshi also objected to Rai Hasan’s participation in the parliamentary board meeting, as the regional head of the party, which has to start the process of award of party tickets soon for the next general elections.

On this, Tareen directly addressing Qureshi said that perhaps he was attributing these remarks to him. Tareen also said that he would not meddle into the affairs of the party and sit at home if the party decides so. After this, both started alleging each other on different party matters till the party chairman intervened.

Tareen alleged that Qureshi for his poor performance in the party and said that he had been assigned the task of revival of the party in Sindh to which he had failed miserably during the last two years. Tareen claimed that he had invested and worked a lot on south Punjab and number of politicians and lawmakers of the area had joined PTI because of his efforts. He taunted Qureshi for remaining isolated with the local lawmakers and small political groups.

In the argument, former secretary general PTI claimed that he had invested a lot of money on the party and he convinced the leadership of South Punjab Province Front to have a merger into PTI and objected to the behaviour of Qureshi. He added that if Qureshi followed the suit and with this behaviour, neither his dream of becoming chief minister Punjab would come true nor Imran Khan would become the prime minister as well as his party would come into power. Tareen also said that he would sit at home after Imran Khan became prime minister.

The sources within PTI viewed that Qureshi was not happy with Tareen because he was instrumental behind the newcomers within PTI. Qureshi thought that perhaps Tareen had not brought some tainted politicians within the party and these were damaging the image of PTI.

At the end, Imran Khan assured the meeting that neither Rai Hasan Nawaz would remain on any party position nor would have a say in the parliamentary board.

On December 15 last year, a Supreme Court verdict had declared Jahangir Tareen to be dishonest under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution and Section 99 of Representation of People Act (ROPA) for the non-declaration of his property as well as assets in his nomination papers and disqualified him for life.

In 2016, the SC had also disqualified Rai Hasan Nawaz for concealing his financial assets and details of unpaid loans to commercial banks in his nomination papers. Hassan had approached the apex court against the election tribunal’s verdict

PTI rebuttal

Late in the Tuesday evening, PTI issued a rebuttal stating reports of differences between the two senior party leaders were baseless and based on speculations. The statement said that party leadership was united and the publication of such reports without proper verification was a proof of irresponsible journalism. The statement said that all decisions in the meeting were taken with consultations and with consensus like in the past.

PTI Secretary Information Fawad Chaudhry while talking to a private TV admitted that there was a discussion in the party over the participation of Rai Hasan in the parliamentary board following his disqualification by the SC. He said that the discussion was held in the light of the other day’s decision of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that disqualified politicians could not hold party positions. However, he denied that there was an argument between the two leaders.

PTI statement after the meeting

PTI in a statement after the meeting said that the party had suggested most suitable names for the slot of caretaker premier and these names should be considered by both PML-N and PPP

It said that PTI termed its 100-days plan integral for the future of the country and the top brass has decided to put forth the details of the plan before the masses in the wake of the criticism of the opponent parties on the plan.

Sharing the details of the meeting, the party spokesperson stated that PTI leaders discussed in detail the 100-day plan of the party and has decided to enlighten masses with the details of the plan. “Central leaders, including Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Jahangir Tareen, Asad Umer and Dr Shireen Mazari have been tasked to disseminate the details of the plan across the length and width of the country,” said the spokesperson.

Moreover, the spokesperson said that in the meeting Shah Mehmood Qureshi briefed the leadership regarding the caretaker setup. He stated that PTI’s suggested names, including Tassaduq Hussain Jilani, Dr Ishrat Hussain and Abdul Razzaq Daud are the best choices for the PM slot in the caretaker government and urged the ruling party to consider these names.

The spokesperson stated that the meeting also deliberated over the strategy for upcoming general elections and issuance of tickets and selection of candidature. It has been decided, he said, to convene a meeting of the parliamentary board immediately.

“The performance of PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been minutely analysed and chairman PTI specifically lauded CM KP Pervaiz Khattak and his cabinet for their remarkable performance even in worst circumstances,” the spokesperson said. 

The meeting also looked into the issue of a huge number of politicians and  lawmakers joining the party.

PTI is also considering to issue white paper on the “worst” governance of the PML-N’s Punjab government, said the spokesperson.